Rainforest Trust knows the best way to make conservation projects a success is by involving the most important stakeholders — local communities. We embraced this tenet in Africa this year, where we protected a total of 869,812 acres through the support of community members living and working closest to the rainforest in 18 different countries.
Working with communities to establish protected areas and management plans is a long but critical process. A reserve Rainforest Trust helped to create in 2016 officially launched this September with a community-focused regional ceremony. Over 250 people — from clan chiefs to government representatives — came to celebrate the opening of Liberia’s Gola Forest National Park. The 219,609-acre reserve protects a critical portion of a West African biodiversity hotspot, safeguarding habitat for more than 60 species of conservation concern based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. These species include the Critically Endangered Western Chimpanzee and the Endangered Pygmy Hippopotamus.
In October, with the government of Cameroon, we announced the creation of the country’s first national park since 1932 — the Douala-Edea National Park. This Western Chimpanzee stronghold includes 350,000 acres of new protection for mangrove forests, wetlands and coastal habitats.
Also in Cameroon, we worked to save one of the continent’s most important locations for amphibians. The community-supported Mount Manengouba Herpetological Sanctuary is a 5,542-acre reserve, 6.5 times larger than Central Park, that protects 100 species of amphibians, 89 species of reptiles and 270 bird species. By working with communities, we are helping to build a conservation strategy that benefits wildlife and local people.
The 847-acre Onepone Endangered Species Refuge, which also protects vital populations of endemic amphibians, was designated in Ghana. The new refuge was named for the traditional moniker of the local people, who were integral in the official designation.
One of the largest community-focused projects by Rainforest Trust is in Tsinjoarivo-Ambalaomby. This region is part of Madagascar’s eastern rainforest chain and home to Critically Endangered primates such as the Sibree’s Dwarf Lemur and Diademed Sifaka, in addition to two Critically Endangered endemic orchids.
Just last week, Rainforest Trust surpassed over 20 million acres of critical rainforests saved since its founding in 1988. This milestone came with the declaration of three new community reserves in the Democratic Republic of Congo!
Rainforest Trust had 27 new fellows and 44 new guardians join our Fellows and Guardians Programs in Africa this year. These programs recognize and support individuals working with our partners on the frontlines of managing our reserves and parks.
Rainforest Trust’s current work in Africa will protect an additional 9,590,180 acres in 2019. We urgently seek your support to continue this important work saving endangered species and the tropical habitats where they live. Please join us today to step up efforts now!